Read Blackout Online

Authors: Andrew Cope


BOOK: Blackout
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Sometimes ideas fly into my head in the middle of the day. Sometimes when I'm in the bath or when I'm at Tesco's. I even have a pencil and paper at my bedside in case anything comes to me in a dream. But sometimes it's a whole lot easier to just borrow ideas off people who are much better at writing than me! People like Will Hussey. Thanks for inspiring me, matey.


We've got a ginger cat. Shakespeare. Nothing special. Does typical cat stuff – you know, lazing around, licking his bum, that kind of thing. Sometimes he catches birds and delivers them to us in the lounge. Dead bodies. Nice!

One day, when I was working at home, I heard some lovely music wafting from the piano room. Beethoven or Mozart I think. I was spooked because there wasn't anyone else at home. I rushed downstairs to investigate and the music had stopped.

Shakespeare was sitting on the piano stool, licking his bum.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

If you want Andrew Cope to visit your school, please email [email protected] He might be able to bring Spy Dog, but there's no way he's bringing a moggy!

1. A Crooked Lady

It was a sticky night. The moon's reflection shimmered on the Mediterranean Sea. The cruise ship anchored offshore twinkled like a thousand stars. The passengers had retired to their cabins, exhausted after a day of sightseeing. The food and wine had been top-notch on this, the most exclusive of luxury cruises. Despite the heat, there was no tossing and turning. All the passengers had attended the captain's supper and were fast asleep, drugged by the thief that was now systematically raiding their cabins.

It was frustrating being in a wheelchair. This was the biggest and best cruise ship, with miles of corridors and too many tight corners. But the thief consoled herself that she had all night. The electric wheelchair hissed down the
executive-suite corridor. It turned sharp left. Stopped. Reversed. Sharp left again. A couple of centimetres forward and it was pointing straight at cabin number one.

The thief rummaged in her handbag. ‘Now where are my glasses?' she murmured, her fingers grasping at an assortment of pills and boiled sweets. ‘Deary me.' She was about to give up and return to her own cabin to find her spectacles when she remembered. Her bony fingers went to her white hair and she chuckled. ‘On my head, where they always are. Oh, Iris, you'd forget your own head if it wasn't screwed on.'

The old lady wrestled her glasses out of a tangle of hair and fixed them on to her face. She peered at the cabin number and a veiny hand ran down her list. ‘Cabin one … Lord and Lady Hesketh-Brown. Perfect.'

She opened her purse and rummaged again. This was the slowest robbery in history and, confined to a wheelchair, it was also destined to be the slowest getaway.
, she considered,
that's the point, isn't it? Too many people are rushing around. The modern world is too quick
. Her mission was to slow it down. And the plot was to start right here, with the Hesketh-Browns. She pulled out some old bus tickets. ‘Nope.' Mint Imperials. ‘Nope.' Her faltering eyes picked out the credit-card room key. Iris tutted.
What's wrong with old-fashioned keys?
she thought.
Heavy ones that you put into a lock and twisted?
She leant forward and slipped the credit card into the slot. A green light came on and she tutted again.
Flashing lights in doors? Whatever next?

She pushed the handle forward and her wheelchair bumped the door open. The criminal pensioner whirred almost silently into the room. The Hesketh-Browns were out cold so noise didn't matter. Lord Hesketh was in his
silk pyjamas, mouth open, dribbling slightly. Lady Hesketh retained a little dignity, head lolled to one side, a book fallen in her lap. The TV was on. ‘Ooh,' smiled the old lady, ‘
Gone with the Wind
, one of my favourites.'

But she knew she didn't have time to watch TV. Her mission was clear. The wheelchair bumped and banged its way past the bed, towards the safe. The thief knew she'd never remember the code so had written it down in a little black book. She peered down through her spectacles and then hit the keypad. She entered the first number and the keypad beeped. Then there was an age as she looked down at her paper, her shaking hand searching for the second number.

Five beeps later her bony finger had tapped out the sequence and the slowest robbery in history had truly begun. Another green light and the safe door swung open. The thief's beady eyes shone as brightly as the diamonds within. ‘Bingo!' she grinned.

Her hand reached in and scooped out the diamonds. She cupped them in her right palm, thinking how pleased her boss would be. The old lady opened her purse and poured them in
before clicking it closed and swinging the safe shut. The wheelchair reversed, the driver too old to bend her neck and look where she was going. ‘Oh bother!' She hit a table and a vase crashed to the floor. His Lord and Her Ladyship snored on, unaware that their treasure was disappearing at pensioner speed.

The wheelchair whirred in reverse, hitting the desk and bed. Eventually it hissed backwards, into the executive-suite corridor, and the cabin door clicked shut. The diamond thief's grin was so big that her false teeth nearly fell out. She fixed her lower set back in place and consulted her list.

Iris was proud to be living out every definition of the word ‘crooked'.
Cabin sixteen next
, she thought, easing her motorized wheelchair forward.
The Brockman-Smythes. They're worth a small fortune

BOOK: Blackout
9.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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